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Asia-Pacific

Korean fried chicken seller guilty of infringing Louis Vuitton copyright

media Not a fried chicken joint - the Louis Vuitton shop on New Bond Street in London Reuters/Luke MacGregor

A Korean fried chicken restaurant owner has been ordered to pay Louis Vuitton millions of won for infringing its copyright. The French-based luxury brand cried foul when the fastfood outlet used a pun on its name and imitated its logo for its own brand.

A Seoul court fined the restaurant's owner, identified by his family name, Kim, 14.5 million won (11,200 euros) for failing to comply with an earlier court's order to stop calling his eatery Louisvui Ton Dak, a pun on Tongdak, the Korean for chicken, the Korea Times reports.

He had a logo similar to Louis Vuitton's printed on napkins and wrapping paper.

Although there was little danger of customers mistaking Kim's fried chicken with its handbags, Louis Vuitton's feathers were ruffled.

Parent company LVMH sued last September, claiming he was damaging the originality and value of its brand.

A Seoul court agreed in October, ordering Kim to stop and to pay LVMH 500,000 won for every day he failed to comply.

Kim claims he did.

He came up with a new pun: ChaLouisvui Tondak.

But he failed to convince the court that this was a significant difference and he was ordered to pay 14.5 million won for using that name for 29 days.

Brands fight counterfeit goods

Luxury-goods makers like LVMH are waging a continuous war against counterfeit and copyright infringement, especially in Asia.

In January Louis Vuitton sought damages from three people for selling fake clothing, shoes and handbags on Chinese group Alibaba's shopping website, Taobao.

An OECD report in January named China as the producer 65 percent of fake goods seized between 2011 and 2013, estimating that trade in counterfeit goods is worth 300 billion euros, 2.0 percent of world trade.

French law tough on fakes

France is third in the league table of countries whose goods are faked, after the US and Italy and equal with Switzerland, and counterfeits make up 50 per cent of French customs seizures.

It also has some of the world's toughest laws on the question.

Anyone found to be entering French territory with a counterfeit can face up to three years in prison and a fine of up to twice the value of the genuine item, while the vehicle used to transport it can be seized.

Food and wine producers also zealously protect their appellations and anyone calling wines made outside the designated districts Champagne or Burgundy can expect to end up in court.

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